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Shenyang apply for building subway
( 2003-08-07 07:34) (China Daily)

Shenyang has a "great chance'' to start its long-awaited metro project, according to a senior official from the city's municipal planning and development commission.

The official surnamed Zhang, who refused to give his full name, told China Daily that Shenyang -- capital of Northeast China's Liaoning Province -- had submitted an application to the State Council to get a licence to build a metro system.

He said he was confident that the city would get approval because Shenyang meets three demands.

"The three demands for underground railway construction relate to population, overall fiscal revenue and gross domestic product, which must be at least 1 million, 10 billion yuan (US$1.2 billion) and 100 billion yuan (US$12 billion) respectively,'' said Zhang. "We meet all these demands.''

According to the Shenyang Statistics Bureau, the city's population was 6.88 million at the end of last year. Fiscal revenue was 10.5 billion yuan (US$1.26 billion) and GDP was 140 billion yuan (US$16.93 billion) last year.

Last year, over 20 cities around China were planning to build an underground railway. But the slowdown in income growth and increased government spending in other areas combined to trigger concern about budget deficits. The State Council decided to shelve the tube projects last October.

The China International Engineering Consulting Corp was asked in January this year to undertake a nationwide survey into subway construction.

Zhang said of Shenyang's proposed metro system: "The project will not only ease urban transport congestion but also boost the local economy. I believe it will be approved because the project would play a positive role in the plan to renovate the old industrial base.''

The Shenyang city government had invested over 7 billion yuan (US$846 million) in city construction and renovation by the end of last year. Nearly 1 billion yuan (US$120 million) went into road construction, renovation and repairs. The total road network was expanded to 1,664 kilometres and the number of public buses rose to 3,243 by the end of last year, according to the Shenyang Statistics Bureau.

City resident Xu Yan, who works for a media company, said: "It is very hard to squeeze into a bus during rush hour, especially in winter. Nearly everybody chooses to travel by bus instead of cycling cause it is too cold outside. And, you know, we could not add any more buses because the air pollution here is already too serious. So I am really looking forward to the construction of the subway.

"The ticket should be less than 3 yuan (36 US cents) or else I will choose the bus instead cause it is more economical.''

The cost of each kilometre of subway will be 550 million yuan (US$66 million), judging from international practice. The railway should be at least 15 kilometres long for efficiency.

The Shenyang subway line would run for 22 kilometres and involve investment of nearly 10 billion yuan (US$1.2 billion), according to Chinanews.

The Shenyang municipal government would provide most of the funding and raise the rest mainly from Chinese banks, said Zhang. But he declined to put a specific figure on the amount of investment involved or name any banks.

Wang Ziliang, an official from the Shenyang subway construction headquarters, denied that the metro project would begin next month, as reported in the China Business Post on Monday.

"We had planned to start up this September if we got approval from State Council. But we have not got the licence yet so I do not know the date,'' said Wang. He declined to comment on the project's financing and profitability.

Shenyang's latest metro application is its third. It previously applied in the early 1960s and in 1993 but the huge investment that would have been required put paid to both applications.

Four Chinese mainland cities already have a subway system -- Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin and Guangzhou in South China's Guangdong Province.

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